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The timing of island effects in nonnative sentence processing

Felser, C., Cunnings, I., Batterham, C. and Clahsen, H. (2012) The timing of island effects in nonnative sentence processing. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 34 (1). pp. 67-98. ISSN 1470-1545

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0272263111000507

Abstract/Summary

Using the eye-movement monitoring technique in two reading comprehension experiments, we investigated the timing of constraints on wh-dependencies (so-called ‘island’ constraints) in native and nonnative sentence processing. Our results show that both native and nonnative speakers of English are sensitive to extraction islands during processing, suggesting that memory storage limitations affect native and nonnative comprehenders in essentially the same way. Furthermore, our results show that the timing of island effects in native compared to nonnative sentence comprehension is affected differently by the type of cue (semantic fit versus filled gaps) signalling whether dependency formation is possible at a potential gap site. Whereas English native speakers showed immediate sensitivity to filled gaps but not to lack of semantic fit, proficient German-speaking learners of L2 English showed the opposite sensitivity pattern. This indicates that initial wh-dependency formation in nonnative processing is based on semantic feature-matching rather than being structurally mediated as in native comprehension.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:34387
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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